Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Japanese Ghosts

For my project on the Japanese internment camps, I intend to write a story that involves (somehow) ghosts. There are a lot of Japanese ghosts—and not a few websites that cover them. Here are some links to stories about the most significant ones. It's a ghostly world out there.

Ghosts and Demons of Japanese Folklore
10 Horrifying Demons and Spirits from Japanese Folklore
14 Terrifying Japanese Monsters, Myths, and Spirits
6 Kinds of Japanese Ghost

And probably best, Yokai.com: an illustrated database of Japanese ghosts and monsters. Seriously: it's a thing.

Here are some illustrations of a few of these scary beings:

Goryo are dangerous and vengeful ghosts that have been martyred in life and return
for revenge. They can be very powerful: destroying crops or bringing fire, typhoons,
or earthquakes.
Tengu are impish mountain goblins that play tricks on people, featured in
countless folktales and considered purely evil until about the 14th century.
They were originally depicted as birdlike,with wings and beaks,
though now the beak is often replaced with a comically long nose.
They are known to lead people away from Buddhism, tie priests to
tall trees and towers, start fires in temples, and kidnap children.
Many legends say the tengu were arrogant, prideful priests
who must now live the rest of their lives as mountain goblins as punishment.
Locals made offerings to the tengu to avoid their mischief,
and there are still festivals in Japan dedicated to them today.
In this revenge story made popular by the famous kabuki drama Yotsuya kaidan,
Oiwa is married to a rōnin (masterless samurai) named Iemon.
However, a rich local’s daughter has fallen in love with him, and
she sends Oiwa a poisoned facial cream that disfigures her horribly,
causing her hair to fall out and her left eye to droop. Upon learning
of her disfigurement, Oiwa accidentally kills herself on a sword.
Her ghostly, deformed face now appears everywhere to haunt Iemon.
It even appears in place of his new bride’s face, which pushes Iemon to
behead her. Oiwa’s spirit follows him relentlessly, to the point
where he welcomes death.
Yuki-onna (meaning "snow woman") is usually described as having white skin,
a white kimono, and long black hair. She appears in snowfall and glides
without feet over the snow like a ghost. She feeds on human essence, and her killing
method of choice is to blow on her victims to freeze them to death and then
suck out their souls.
Bakemono: shape-changing demons who often take the form of animals like cats,
foxes, or badgers, and who are generally destructive. The word means “changing thing”
and has a meaning similar to the word “beast.”
A more contemporary take on bakemono
And yeah, there are hundreds more. The Japanese have ghosts, ghoulies, and goblins down.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this offers many storytelling possibilities!

    ReplyDelete